Goods vehicle operator licensing: licence applications

If you drive a goods vehicle which is more than 3.5 tonnes in weight and it is used to carry goods as part of a trade or business, you are required by law to have a Goods Vehicle Operator's Licence.

Types of operator licence

Restricted licence

Restricted licences are for those who carry their own goods or materials in connection with their trade or business. This licence covers all transport operations in the UK.

Standard (national) licence

Standard (national) licences are for those who carry their own goods or materials for their trade or business and/or carry goods for hire or reward. This licence covers all transport operations in the UK.

Someone in, or employed by, the company must hold a Transport Manager Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) qualification

Standard (international) licence

Standard (international) licences are the same as Standard (National) Licences except they cover. transport operations throughout Europe.

Cost of a licence

If you apply for a new licence, or a (publishable) change to an existing licence, you must pay a one-off £254.00 application fee.

If your licence application is successful, you will then have to pay a licensing fee of £449.00 which covers a period of five years. A fee of £449.00 is also payable at the end of the five year period if you wish to continue your existing licence.

If you need an interim licence or direction, this will cost £68.

If you had an existing Standard (Hire or Reward) licence before 1 July 2012, you will need to apply for a new licence under the Goods Vehicles Act before the current one expires. You must pay the application fee of £254.00 when applying for your licence as well as the £449.00 grant fee.

All fees are non-refundable.

Vehicle operator licensing

Vehicle operator licensing will become a digital-only function during the contingency arrangements associated with COVID-19. As such, the directions should be as follows:

To apply for a new operator’s licence:

To make changes to an existing licence:

For urgent queries:

Give details of your query and provide a contact telephone number.

Where an operator cannot use email, for any reason, they should contact TRU (Transport Regulation Unit):

  • phone: 028 9054 1410

Apply for a licence

To get a restricted licence you will have to satisfy standards of fitness and finances.

For a Standard licence you must show good repute, financial standing, establishment and professional competence. You must also advertise your operating centres, meet environmental standards and agree to a number of undertakings and conditions.

Make changes to an existing licence

You can use the VOL service to check, change (vary) or update your goods vehicle operator’s licence. If you've used the self-service before, sign in using the same details.

Renew your licence

If you wish to continue your existing licence at the end of the five year period you’ll have to complete a licence checklist rather than a full application and pay the fee by the date your licence expires or you will no longer hold a valid licence.

Contact the DfI Central Licensing Office at least two weeks before the expiry date of your licence if you have not received the licence checklist or been asked to pay the fee.

Forms and guidance

Other goods vehicle operator’s licence forms and guidance are available here:

Change to financial standing from 1 January 2020

By law,  the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) must be satisfied that goods vehicle operators have enough financial resources to run their businesses and maintain their vehicles properly.

The financial levels for standard national and international operator licences apply from 1 January until 31 December.

The levels are calculated annually based on the rate of exchange against the Euro on the first working day of October in the previous year.

The rates have not changed for 2020.

The following sterling rates apply to new licence applications and applications to vary existing licences until 31 December 2020.

Standard Operator’s Licence 

For: Rates 
First vehicle £8,000
Each additional vehicle £4,450

Restricted Operator’s Licence 

The rates of finance needed to support a restricted licence are set by DfI.

The financial levels for restricted licence holders will stay the same for 2020.

For: Rate
First vehicle £3,100
Each additional vehicle £1,700

Vehicle Operator Licensing System

Once you have identified the type of licence you need you can use the Vehicle Operator Licensing (VOL) system to apply for and make changes to your operator’s licence.

Operators and new applicants can use the system to:

  • amend details (for example safety inspection provider)
  • add, update or remove transport managers
  • export vehicle data
  • fill in application online (then print, sign and post)
  • receive help and support with completing application
  • wait less time for complete application decisions
  • upload documents online, including bank statements

Browsers required for using VOL

To use the VOL service you'll need to have a modern and secure browser installed to access the new services and to make sure that we can protect your data.

Find help for updating your browser at:

Before you start

You need:

  • a debit or credit card to pay any fees
  • your username and password if you’ve used the service before

How the Department for Infrastructure will use your personal data for the administration of goods vehicle operator licensing - Privacy Notice

Once your application has been processed you will be sent a letter with your reference number and requesting any additional information if required.

You must not drive a vehicle until you have a licence. If necessary you can apply to the DfI for an interim licence, which is awarded on a discretionary basis. 

    Make an objection, complaint or representation

    If you wish to make an objection, complaint or representation about an existing Goods Vehicle Operator Licence holder or a current application you can do so using the guide below.

    For further information about Operator Licensing requirements:

    • telephone: 0300 200 7831

    More useful links

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    Call 0800 587 0912
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